I recently got back from a trip to SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida. While reasonable people might question the wisdom of walking around outside for hours during the hottest, most humid days of the year, my family defies conventional wisdom every day. And sweats a lot. The dolphin show, the sea lion and otter show, and the penguin exhibit were our favorite parts of the park. The penguin exhibit was freezing cold, so it was quite an experience to haul one’s soaking body into a frigid chamber filled with penguins, snow, and the most miserable, parka-clad park attendants I have ever seen. Also, there was a grown man at our hotel pool who had a Mr. Potato Head tattoo on his shoulder blade. It’s not relevant to anything, but I wanted to get it out there before I forgot. The park’s too big to see everything in one day; best budget for two or three. And go when it’s cooler.
HBO is planning a television series that will depict a reality where the South won the American Civil War, or at least seceded from the Union. The very idea has made many people very upset, mostly because they’re concerned that the series won’t be sensitive/woke enough for today’s enlightened audience. This is an argument that makes no sense to anyone paying attention to news and cultural trends: the showrunners are far-left ideologues who fantasized about beheading George W Bush on their other show, Game of Thrones. (They’re lying when they say it was an honest mistake. Mistakes like that don’t just happen.) The showrunners’ obvious intent is to portray how the U.S. today is horribly racist toward people of color through this ludicrous fiction, thereby dividing the country even further along racial lines.
I watched the first season of Game of Thrones. I also read through the first 1.5 books of the series. But once the presidential assassination fantasies came to light, I decided my entertainment time was better spent elsewhere. I’d have done the same if these shit-throwing chimpanzees had put in an Obama head as a stand-in for Ned’s. Knowing who makes this show, knowing the sickness that’s seething in what masquerades as hearts within the hollow chests of these people, I’m surprised and dismayed that the program still enjoys an audience. Its popularity is as shining a symbol of our culture’s coarsening as one can behold.
I finished watching both seasons of Fortitude. The first season, despite its slowness, was tighter than the second, and had a more coherent story. The science fiction elements were subtle, the character relationships were realistic, and the violence was horrifically disturbing. One thing that troubled me was that the setting didn’t seem as cold as it should have, even though the show took place in the coldest part of the world still habitable by human beings. The second season had Dennis Quaid, who was likable but kind of unnecessary. He’s better in more comedic roles. In theme it shifted to more supernatural elements, which muddied everything for no good reason. The Returned Dan made it more watchable than it deserved to be.
Over the last week or so I’ve been reading Nicholas Guild’s two-novel series The Assyrian. Historical fiction doesn’t get much better. It’s got blood, sex, intrigue, and a touch of mysticism a la Gary Jennings. The great thing about historical fiction as a genre is that it never loses its relevance.
Actors Chris Pratt and Anna Faris are separating. This has nothing to do with me or anyone else except for the people directly involved, but it’s all over the news, so they’ve made it my business. Because it’s now my business, I get to comment on this one line in their social media separation notice (let it sink in that social media separation notices exist and try not to experience too much despair): “We tried hard for a long time, and we’re really disappointed.” They tried hard. For a long time. And they’re really disappointed. So their marriage isn’t a lot different from a football game. Couldn’t they have tried really hard for a very long time? Perhaps they’d be less disappointed.
I don’t pretend to know the stresses their marriage underwent, but I do know that being married isn’t always easy. It’s not supposed to be. Anything worthwhile is difficult to achieve, maintain, and uphold. It’s stupid and unrealistic and damaging to one’s children to go into it thinking otherwise. I’m not unsympathetic to this family, but I can’t help but think that the cavalier wording of the social media separation notice might reflect the nature of the principals’ commitment to marriage.